Tag: Environment

Western fires take toll on water supplies

Erosion a huge factor as burned areas grow

A wildfire burns in Texas. Photo via U.S. Forest Service.

Staff Report

The growth of wildfires in the West could double the amount of sediment moving through the region’s rivers, U.S. Geological researchers found in a new study. Increased sediments can affect both water quality and the amount of water available for communities.

The USGS scientists analyzed a collection of climate, fire and erosion models for 471 large watersheds throughout the western U.S. They found that by 2050, the amount of sediment in more than one-third of watersheds could at least double. In nearly nine-tenths of the watersheds, sedimentation is projected to increase by more than 10 percent.

Continue reading “Western fires take toll on water supplies”

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New study reveals whale shark secrets

Science helps inform conservation

Little by little, giant whale sharks are giving up some of their secrets. Photo courtesy NOAA.

Staff Report

Ocean biologists are starting to learn about the world’s largest fish, and the information should help efforts to protect endangered whale sharks.

Giant whale sharks, up to 60 feet long, feed mostly on tiny drifting animals and small fish like sardines. To find enough food, they endlessly cruise vast reaches of ocean to find dense swarms of prey. The learn more, scientists have been tracking the whale sharks in the eastern tropical Pacific, finding that they spend most of their time along ocean fronts, which are dynamic boundaries of cold and warm water masses that stimulate life. Continue reading “New study reveals whale shark secrets”

Federal court stalls Las Vegas water grab

Federal court slows Las Vegas water grab.

Environmental studies flawed

Staff Report

A federal court has at least temporarily stifled a major water grab in Nevada, finding that the Bureau of Land Management didn’t adequately study and disclose impacts from groundwater pumping scheme by Las Vegas. At issue are losses of wetlands and wildlife habitat that would result from the Southern Nevada Water Authority’s massive groundwater pipeline development project.

The court ruled that the BLM violated federal environmental laws by failing to demonstrate how it would compensate for the destruction of thousands of acres of wetlands and sensitive habitat in eastern Nevada. Continue reading “Federal court stalls Las Vegas water grab”

Western monarchs in steep decline

Will Monarch survive? @bberwyn photo.

Concerted conservation actions needed to save species

Staff Report

Monarch butterflies in the western U.S. have declined even more dramatically than believed, putting the population at risk of extinction, according to new research. In As recently as the 1980s, about 10 million monarchs over-wintered in coastal California, but today that’s down to about 300,000, said Cheryl Schultz, an associate professor at Washington State University Vancouver, who led the study, published last week in the journal Biological Conservation. Continue reading “Western monarchs in steep decline”

Invasive species shift Great Lakes ecosystems

A new study documents ecological changes in Lake Michigan. Photo via @NASA_EO

How will fisheries managers respond?

Staff Report

The Great Lakes have seen successive invasions by non-native species that alter the ecosystem, including quagga mussels that filter the water and remove nutrients. At least partly as a result of the invasive mussels, Lake Michigan is becoming less hospitable to Chinook salmon, according to a new study led by scientists with the U.S. Geological Survey and Michigan State University.

The scientists concluded that stocking could help sustain a population of Chinook salmon, but that the lake’s ecosystem is now more conducive to stocking lake trout and steelhead salmon. These two species can switch from eating alewife, which are in decline, to bottom-dwelling round goby, another newly established invasive prey fish that feeds on quagga mussels. Continue reading “Invasive species shift Great Lakes ecosystems”

Sunday set: Saving lakes

Acting now could help protect lakes from global warming

Had a chance to explore some of Austria’s most beautiful lakes this summer, and spent time talking to scientists about how they will be affected by global warming. As it turns out, there are a few thing we can do to try protect them from climate change impacts, but we have to act now, and in the hope that we can tackle the larger problem in the near future by drastically reducing greenhouse gas emissions. But in the short-term, protecting lakes from pollution, making sure their source waters are clean and cool and trying to protect groundwater that feeds into lakes can help make them more resilient to climate change. In some cases, fisheries managers should probably be thinking about trying to create climate sanctuaries for some species, and regular monitoring, linked with adaptive management, can also help control impacts. Read my story for Deutsche Welle to learn more.

Trump’s EPA cuts threaten Colorado environment

USGS and EPA scientists take earth and water samples below the abandoned Pennsylvania Mine in Summit County, Colorado. @bberwyn photo.

EDF report details risks to clean air, water programs

Staff Report

The Trump administration’s attempted dismantling of the EPA could have far-reaching consequences for Colorado, according to a new report issued by the Environmental Defense Fund.

The organization warns that the proposed 30 percent budget cut would affect public health and environmental cleanups by reducing the agency’s budget to levels last seen in the 1970s.

“The president seeks to roll back common-sense environmental safeguards that have protected the health and well-being of Colorado for decades,” said Elgie Holstein, EDF’s senior director of strategic planning, “This is not just an assault on an agency. It is an assault on public health and safety.” Continue reading “Trump’s EPA cuts threaten Colorado environment”